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What Is Multi Cloud: Key Use Cases and Benefits for Enterprise Settings

A grid of clouds against a blue sky to symbolize multi cloud architectures.

The cloud looks very different today than it did ten years ago. Even using the term “cloud” is no longer precise enough to describe the multiple architectures businesses employ to manage their private and public cloud services. With the rise in popularity of software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platforms, businesses are now able to pick and choose the cloud solutions that best suit their particular applications and use cases.

What Is Multi Cloud?

But what is multi cloud? Essentially, a multi cloud deployment spreads an organization’s computing resources and data across two or more public cloud services (as opposed to hybrid cloud, which includes private clouds). Multi cloud can include SaaS, Paas, and IaaS offerings in addition to traditional cloud hosting. Technically, a multi cloud deployment doesn’t require any centralized orchestration, but it’s definitely recommended if you want to take full advantage of the benefits of multi cloud.

Multi Cloud Benefits

Adopting a multi cloud architecture can provide your organization with the following benefits:

  • Greater Vendor Choice – With multi cloud, you can select the best vendors for your unique requirements. There may be a specific cloud provider that has the expertise and innovation you need for a particular workload. Using multi cloud, you can select the platforms and services that provide the exact functionality you need.
  • Cost Savings – When you have a greater choice of vendors, you can also save money by choosing the best licensing and pricing terms for your requirements. Multi cloud also helps you avoid vendor lock-in, meaning you can more easily transfer to a new provider if your existing vendor’s renewal terms are unfavorable.
  • Increased Reliability – Hosting your data, applications, and services across multiple clouds can provide redundancy if you orchestrate it correctly. By replicating your data and workloads across your multi cloud architecture, you can ensure continuous availability in the event of a disaster, outage, or denial of service attack.
  • Improved Security – Decentralizing your critical data and services makes it harder for a hacker to gain access to everything because you limit their lateral movement on your network. Additionally, if a hacker targets one of your cloud providers, only your data and applications on that one platform will be exposed.

Now that you understand what multi cloud is and how it can benefit your organization, let’s look at the two biggest use cases for a multi cloud architecture.

Multi Cloud Use Case #1: An Ad Hoc and Vendor-Neutral Approach to Cloud Migration

For many enterprises, multi cloud happens almost by accident. When they start migrating their workloads to the cloud, they choose public cloud providers on an ad hoc basis depending on the specific features and functionality they need. Eventually, they end up with multiple public cloud solutions with differing license terms, renewal dates, and SLAs. 

Some companies take things a step further by implementing a multi cloud orchestration platform after the fact. To do so, they need to find a solution that can integrate with all their public cloud providers. Sometimes, their cloud offerings are incompatible with their chosen orchestration solution, which means they have to migrate workloads to supported public cloud vendors to get full coverage.

That’s not to say that this multi cloud use case isn’t valid—many organizations successfully implement a multi cloud architecture in this way. There are pros and cons to a vendor-agnostic, ad hoc approach to choosing cloud services to achieve multi cloud:

Pros

Cons

You get to select the best cloud services for your particular applications

➕You can avoid vendor lock-in and shop for better deals

➖Orchestration can be more challenging because you need to find a platform that integrates with your chosen vendors, rather than the other way around

➖Your contract renewal timelines, SLAs, and other terms may not all be the same

 

Multi Cloud Use Case #2: Leveraging a Multi Cloud Orchestration Platform’s Chosen Ecosystem

The other most common use case for multi cloud is much more deliberate. Some enterprises intentionally plan their multi cloud architecture by starting with a multi cloud orchestration platform that provides the functionality and integrations they need. They can then leverage that platform’s ecosystem by choosing cloud services from among its supported vendors. Enterprises can still work with the best SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS providers for their particular applications, but their choices might be more limited. However, by using this multi cloud strategy, enterprises can take full advantage of multi cloud orchestration within their chosen ecosystem.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of an orchestration-focused multi cloud deployment:

Pros

Cons

Orchestration is easier because your platform comes with built-in integrations for your cloud providers

Staying within the supported ecosystem simplifies troubleshooting for technical issues. With many multi cloud orchestration platforms, you can even call one central support phone number (or access one centralized ticketing system) to receive help with any of your chosen services

You can manage your licenses and renewals from one centralized location.

➖You have less choice in which vendors and platforms you can use

➖You have less leverage in contract negotiations with individual cloud providers, so you may not experience the same cost savings. However, some multi cloud orchestration ecosystems offer discount ➖package pricing when you sign on with their preferred vendors

 

What Is the Right Multi Cloud Deployment Model for Your Business?

You can approach your multi cloud deployment in a variety of ways depending on your existing environment, business needs, and use case. To unlock the full benefits of multi cloud, we recommend leveraging a multi cloud orchestration platform to create a single, unified environment of cloud applications and workloads. Through the platform, you can easily move them around as needed for performance and failover. 

For example, Copado’s Multi Cloud DevOps platform features integrations with more than 12 public clouds in the Salesforce ecosystem, including MuleSoft and Heroku. Copado’s multi cloud allows you to apply the speed, quality, and cultural values of DevOps to your public cloud infrastructure.